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Service-Oriented Architecture: Myths, Realities, and a Maturity Model

Rudy Hirschheim, Richard Welke, Andrew Schwarz


Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is espoused as the next structural innovation within the IT marketplace. Our findings, based on interviews with fifteen key individuals responsible for SOA deployment at ten organizations, suggest that there is a ‘disconnect’ between the in-print prescriptions regarding SOA and what is actually happening. For example, the vast majority of organizations were using SOA as an IT architectural initiative rather than as a business transformation tool. Perhaps because of this technology focus, most organizations did not see SOA (and services in general) as a vehicle for solving larger business needs, but rather as ‘IT things to be consumed by IT.’ As this paper discusses, we do not believe that this is because SOA is merely ‘hype.’ Rather, most of the organizations participating in this study were relatively early in their SOA deployment strategy. We therefore propose a five-stage SOA Maturity Model with six corresponding dimensions (including both IT and business elements) and argue that higher levels of maturity will lead to “game shifts” as business and IT interests converge around SOA and are able to exploit its transformational aspects.

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ISSN 1540-1960